France: Passerby fumes at Jean Castex in Carcassonne
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The French Prime Minister made the suggestion at the Conference on the Future of Europe in Toulouse on Saturday. Pre-empting what might be on Emmanuel Macron’s agenda when France assumes the Presidency of the Council of the European Union next year, Mr Castex said that an EU-wide minimum wage is “necessary at all costs”.
He said: “I’m going to be very concrete here, on the idea of a European minimum wage because we have countries with very different labour rights.
“We are in an open area and the countries with the most advanced social policies are penalised.
“This is not possible. It is contrary to the idea I have of Europe. Europe is about alignment upwards.
“So it is necessary at all costs.
“The right moment hasn’t arrived yet, but if we could, under the French Presidency, bring the directive on the European minimum wage to a successful conclusion, we could make real progress in the common cause.”
The comments sparked the fury of National Rally MEP Dominique Bilde who urged the French executive to put French people before EU interests.
She blasted: “France must fight deindustrialisation and immigration and Jean Castex is wasting time with the European minimum wage that nobody wants because nations defend their independence.
“For Rassemblement National, the priority is the French people.
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“The priority is the minimum wage of the French!”
France will hold a presidential election next April.
Emmanuel Macron, who was believed until recently to have to face Marine Le Pen in the 2022 election, is now being challenged by left, centre and right candidates, all gaining support in the polls.
The latest Harris interactive poll published last week revealed up to 42 percent of French voters now feel further away from President Macron’s policy.
The poll saw a tightening of voting intentions in the first round with Macron at 23 percent, Marine Le Pen at 16 percent, Xavier Bertrand at 14 percent, Eric Zemmour and Jean-Luc Melenchon both at 13 percent.
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Good news for the far-left candidate Melenchon, gaining support in the recent weeks whilst Marine Le Pen sees her share of the votes slightly going down.
Perhaps the National Rally leader is paying the price for Eric Zemmour’s rise to power, despite the far-right TV polemicists is yet to declare his candidacy.
But Le Pen said she is not threatened by her rival.
“I’m not worried. I am convinced the French people will place us against Emmanuel Macron because we defend very different models of society. He stands for unregulated globalisation, I defend the nation, which remains the best structure to defend our identity, security, freedom and prosperity,” she said.
Bertrand is the candidate that would gain more votes in the centre-right.
The poll still predicts that Macron would be re-elected with 54 percent of the vote, the total of Marine Le Pen (46 percent) remaining stable, in the same range since March (between 45 and 47 percent).
Two-thirds of Eric Zemmour’s potential voters would rally to Marine Le Pen in the second round, against 7 percent to Emmanuel Macron and 27 percent of blank, null or abstention votes.
Macron has not yet said whether he will stand for re-election, but opinion polls show him and Le Pen as the likely two candidates to make it through to the second round, with Macron seen as the eventual winner.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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